GORHAM – Cami Casserly was looking for the bunt sign. She never got it.

So for the North Yarmouth Academy catcher, it was time for plan B.

“I just wanted to move (the runner), and then (Coach Rick Doyon) wouldn’t give it to me,” she said. “So I was kind of like ‘Well, here we go. Got to get on base.’ And it worked.”

Indeed it did. Casserly’s RBI single, her second of the game, scored Jordan Nash with the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the NYA softball team successfully defended its state crown by beating Penobscot Valley, 2-1, Saturday afternoon at the University of Southern Maine.

NYA (19-1) won its second straight game in dramatic fashion, after walking off in a 2-1 South final victory over Buckfield. The Panthers were outhit 10-7 by Penobscot Valley (15-3).

“It’s crazy,” said NYA senior pitcher Lily Rawnsley, who struck out four and pitched around seven hits to keep the Howlers off the board over the final six innings. “We’re all competitors, we’re all athletes, so I knew we had the potential to do it. But it just feels great again.”


Penobscot Valley found success early when starting pitcher Lauren Veino (eight strikeouts) led off the game with a double and scored on another double by Emma Potter, but couldn’t produce any big hits after that.

“They just found a couple of gaps and made a run happen, and we just hit it to where they were, unfortunately,” Penobscot Valley Coach Jessica McKechnie said. “Sometimes, that’s how it turns out.”

The Howlers got at least one hit in each of the first six innings, while NYA managed only a walk through the first three.

“That team’s really good. … As we got going, I was like ‘Oh, it’s going to be tough,'” Doyon said. “I was waiting for the bats to come around, they’ve got to come around.”

In the fourth, they did, as Rawnsley, Nash and Casserly had consecutive singles to tie the game at 1. NYA stranded the potential go-ahead run on third in the fifth, but Nash led off the sixth with a line-drive double to center.

“My mindset was just ‘Get on base,'” Nash said. “I knew it was an important inning, and it was an important time to get on base.”


Casserly followed with a single to center, giving NYA its first lead of the day.

“Sometimes I get a little stressed out, but honestly, I just try not to overthink it,” she said. “I’ve done that hundreds of times. I take it as an everyday thing, it’s nothing special, when you think about it. So that’s how I think, so I don’t overthink anything.”

That even-keeled approach has extended to the whole NYA team, which, Rawnsley said, has helped the Panthers feel comfortable in tense moments. They trailed in the first inning of each of the last two state title games, and had to score in the bottom of the seventh to win each of their last two regional titles.

“I think it definitely does,” she said. “It’s a seven-inning game, so I knew if we didn’t have luck in the beginning, we could get it in the end.”

Rawnsley showcased her unflappable nature by navigating out of one jam after another.

“I’ve played softball all my life. I’ve been a pitcher, I’ve been in those situations before,” she said. “I just knew that I had to focus on each batter; don’t focus on anything around me.”

McKechnie took comfort in knowing seven starters, including Veino, will be back for Penobscot Valley.

“We’re going to be strong,” McKechnie said. “We’ll be back.”

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